If you own a dog, you should know that you’re responsible for any harm it causes to others, such as from biting someone. Most home insurance policies cover any costs that come with a dog bite incident. Below, we’ll dive deeper into when and how your home insurance can help you if your dog bites someone.
When does home insurance cover dog bites?
Your home insurance may pay for dog bites and the expenses that come with them in a number of situations, including the following:
When your dog bites a guest
If you invite a guest to your house and your dog bites them, your homeowners insurance policy may cover the incident, depending on the liability coverage included in your policy. Your personal liability coverage can cover for injuries and potential lawsuits, while your medical payments coverage can cover any medical expenses for treatment of the bite.
When your dog bites someone away from your home
Home insurance typically covers dog bites that occur off your premises as well. This means if you’re on a neighborhood walk or at the park and your dog bites someone, you may still be covered. Note that some policies won’t cover incidents that happen off your property. Make sure you check your policy’s details.
When your dog damages someone else’s property
Homeowners insurance can also pay for property damage that your dog causes. If you take your dog to your neighbor’s house and it chews up their new furniture, liability coverage may cover the damage. Every policy differs slightly, so make sure you understand your policy thoroughly before bringing your dog out in public.
When does home insurance not cover dog bites?
Home insurance doesn’t always cover dog bites. Make sure you understand your policy so you aren’t left uncovered in the event of an incident. Here are a few scenarios where homeowners insurance may not cover a dog bite.
Your home insurance company excludes your dog breed
Some dog breeds have a reputation for being aggressive, and your home insurance company may refuse to cover these breeds due to the perceived risk of a bite occurring. Breeds that are often excluded from coverage include pit bulls, rottweilers, Siberian huskies, and chow chows. If you find that your home insurer won’t cover your dog breed, you may want to seek dog bite insurance elsewhere.
Your home insurance provider won’t cover injuries to household members
Your home insurance might not cover injuries to household members, only injuries to guests and family members who don’t belong to your household. If your dog bites your child who lives with you, you may be responsible for the medical bills and have to pay for them through your health insurance policy.
Your policy specifically excludes all dog bites
When you first purchased your home insurance, you might have agreed to exclude coverage for dog bites and other pet-related injuries. If you don’t remember, check the fine print of your home insurance. And if you’re purchasing a new policy, take the time to fully understand the extent of coverage you’ll receive should your dog bite someone.
Your dog bites someone in a business setting
If you run a dog-grooming business or another type of business out of your home, and your dog bites someone, your home insurance policy likely won’t cover it. You might have to turn to your business insurance instead.
How to file a dog bite claim
Dog bite claims are quite common. In fact, dog bite claims cost home insurance companies in the U.S. $882 million in 2021. If you need to file a claim, either submit a claim online or call your insurer to begin the process. Be prepared to state personal information like your name, date of birth, and policy number.
You’ll also need to share the date and location of the dog bite, as well as any photo or video evidence that supports your claim. Once you submit your claim, an insurance claims adjuster may step in to evaluate the situation and determine whether to approve your request for coverage.
Ideally, your home insurance company will approve your claim. But if your insurer denies your claim, you can likely appeal the decision. You can file an appeal on your own or work with an attorney.
How to renew your policy after a dog bite claim
If your dog bites someone, your provider might make some changes to your policy to account for the increased risk. This might include charging higher premiums or even excluding your dog from coverage.
If your home insurance company decides not to renew your policy, you’ll have to shop around and find coverage elsewhere. Fortunately, you can find many providers that may extend coverage to you, though your rates may still be increased due to previous incidents.